After working for two hours straight on an Honors project worth a substantial slice of your grade, your tummy rumbles. “Just another paragraph before I get some dinner,” you say to yourself, but your stomach insists. You click “Save” on your Word document at least twenty times before clam-shelling your laptop and walking to the fridge. A solitary incandescent bulb illuminates half an onion, ketchup, and a cheese stick once you open the door. You close it, check your pantry as a diversion, and come back to the fridge, half-expecting a magical grocery elf to summon a three course meal, but that sad trio greets you once again. “Perkins it is then,” you think to yourself, though this is the 10th time this week you’ve ordered out.
Most of us Honors students have been in this type of situation before. We need to eat to fuel our brains, and thankfully there are plenty of convenient and tasty on-campus food options to fulfill that need. However, the way that food makes us feel can make all the difference when morale is hard to come by in the home stretch of the year. At some point this semester before spring break, I had gotten sick of trekking to Perkins, Trabant, and CR. I had tried all of the foods I wanted to try, and it was beginning to feel repetitive. Even a fresh batch of crispy, salty, scrumptious Trabant Chick-Fil-A waffle fries was losing its luster. Unfortunately, I hadn’t mastered the art of grocery shopping and cooking for myself so I was at a culinary impasse.
What I really craved was my mother’s cooking. Any time I visit home, I ask her to make me some of her signature dishes so I can bring them back to UD with me, but leftovers only last for so many days. This spring break, I decided I would learn her recipes so I can cook them for myself.
My mother comes from Paraguay, and she brought many traditional recipes with her like empanadas, sopa Paraguaya, and chipa guazu. What I noticed watching her cook is that she rarely measures anything and just knows exactly how much to add after years of cooking these foods. Rather than focusing on the specific amounts of sweet corn to add to the chipa and sopa, or how many green and red peppers to add to the empanada filling, she was showing me what consistencies and colors to look for. Even when using the oven, my mom doesn’t time anything. She watches for the crust to turn a deep golden brown and for the kitchen to fill with the aroma of baking onions and corn.
Personally, I still need to measure some ingredients and put a timer on the stove so I don’t burn my apartment down. Maybe one day I’ll know these recipes like the back of my hand, the way my mom does. In the meantime, I’ve been inspired to try making one or two of my mother’s recipes on my own, and to try planning out some home cooked meals throughout the week. Cooking for yourself is definitely less convenient than takeout, but more rewarding, especially when you learn to make some of your favorite foods. Whether you’re an accomplished home cook or a freshman Honors student in Redding who only borrows the first floor kitchen on occasion, hopefully I’ve inspired you to try your hand at a comforting family recipe yourself.
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